Even with state-of-the-art virtual contact center software with every feature available, the precise equipment, and numerous reporting dashboards, an effective call center is only ultimately as good as it agents. Statistics from the 2016 Customer Engagement Index survey conducted by 7 showed that 47% of customers were likely to take their business to a competitor within one day of experiencing poor customer service, with 79% following within a week.
With the increasing demand of authentic and personalized experiences from customers, the demand for well-trained agents offering excellent service is subsequently on the rise.
Here's our recommended list of skills that every agent should master through proper training to rock and roll at being a super cool call center agent.
According to reports by Parature in 2014, 65% of consumers were willing to cut ties with a brand over a single poor customer service. Thus, when approaching a customer, it is necessary to keep in mind the customer’s point of view, and not just the convenience of the brand that is being sold. The best agents are those that are able to develop a rapport with the customer, making them feel understood and validated.
2. Strong communication skills
This is one of the more crucial skills needed as call center agents. Effective agents are able to create a balance between being professional and being friendly, while also communicating in a clear and confident manner. Preparing scripts for ideal answers, having planned notes for alternative responses, and adding some personalized modifications are useful ways to enhance the consumer experience. For example, if a customer dials the wrong department, a more appropriate response would be “____ handles this kind of question. Let me get her on the phone”, instead of bluntly stating “that’s not my job”.
3. Critical thinking
Although scripts are generally provided for agents, a running theme in more recent years is the idea of allowing agents to craft some of their own dialogue, based off talking points mentioned in reference scripts. While this creates a more natural customer interaction, it also means that agents must be able to think on their feet and deal with possible tense situations. Adapting to conceivably uncomfortable situations and keeping calm and focused under fire therefore becomes crucial for great customer service.
4. Knowledge retention
In as fast paced an environment as a call center, the ability to absorb and retain knowledge is chief. Whether it is names, company policies or products, time is constrained and agents must be proficient to retain information under pressure. Some helpful tips would be remaining concentrated throughout, repeating names out loud as soon as it is heard and using it during the conversation, and memorizing the responses to frequently asked questions.
Organizational skills and the ability to multitask are imperative in the call center setting. In addition to attending to the customer on the phone, agents assume various other duties. In such a scenario, it is easy to lose focus and be overwhelmed. Effective agents will have a systemized list of prospective clients ready at the beginning of the day, with any notes and follow-up required completed immediately after the call.
6. Focus and Patience
Remaining focused and patient throughout the hundreds of frustrated calls throughout the day is essential for an agent. If an agent is unable to be a patient listener or take the time to explain the solution completely, customers are likely to be even more frustrated and not return. An estimate by Accenture put the approximate cost of customers switching due to poor service at $1.6 trillion in 2015. This, along with the fact that millennials now expect better customer service with every passing year show that there is very little room for error when dealing with customers. Agents must therefore be trained in these skills appropriately.
7. Vocal Exercises
Just as important as voice training is for agents perhaps is mastering vocal exercises. Doing small activities such as humming, sighing and diaphragmatic breathing will help relax the voice and increase vocal quality. They are also important for strengthening and controlling the vocal cords, to avoid any damage to them.
Although call center agents have demanding jobs, these essential training tips and support will will make sure that you are confident and effective every time you answer the phone. Check out more tips with our call center sales and customer service course.